Twitter for Summer PD
You can access professional development over the summer without racing through airports or hitting your bank account. The computer is your friend, and one of the friendliest activities it will host is micro-blogging, thanks to Twitter. Besides your own 140-character missives (it takes some practice to say a lot in a little space), you can find hundreds of educators sharing how-to’s, infographics, and other interesting pedagogical finds. Blogging at their site AskteacherZ: Inspirational Education, two Michigan teachers make the case for PD through tweeting, noting not only the shared ideas but also the grassroots, isolation-breaking community experience.
If you are new to Twitter, read Daniel Edwards’ story of his evolution from skeptic to devotee in “Teachers – The 10 Stages of Twitter.” And if you’re an old hand, read the UK educator’s post for several good laughs. Total novices can get started with eight brief videos from David Wees, an educator who provides learning support for technology at an IB school in Canada and also facilitates the Edutopia Assessment group.
When you are ready to move beyond writing occasional tweets and searching out folks to follow, Twitter fan Cybraryman (Jerry Blumengarten, who tweets at @cybraryman1) has a huge cache of Twitter-related resources amid his extensive collection of education topics for teachers, parents, and students. Blumengarten shares his list of preferred Tweeters arranged by content area, grade, and other categories. He also provides a list of education hashtags. Among the most useful for grade 4-8 educators are #4thchat, #5thchat, #6thchat, #elechat, #midleved, #mschat, #ntchat (for new teachers), #tlchat (for teacher librarians), and #edtech. And don’t miss the uber-ed-hashtag, #edchat, which Blumengarten highlights. For an explanation on how to create and follow hashtags, visit the new Twitter guide from Powerful Learning Practice. PLP’s guide also includes lots of suggestions for making Twitter a part of your classroom.
If you are curious about how all this hashtagging got started, the NYT’s Learning Network has archived an interview with several of the instigators.
With so many Twitter-happy educators to keep up with, you may want to impose some organization on your tweeting. Programs like TweetDeck and HootSuite can help you arrange tweeters by subject, schedule tweets, and more. And if it’s all flying by too fast sometimes, bookmark TweetChat, which specializes in slowing down the pace of tweets — especially useful if you’re participating in a live hashtag chat with a large and/or excited group of participants.
Artwork: Chris Davis, Powerful Learning Practice